Let’s get back to the tough moments. For instance, I am low-spirited today. On 1 September, I usually go to district schools and take my children there, and now I am stuck in prison! I am ruining my children’s reputation and depriving them of many opportunities. For instance, this year, Vania is graduating form the First Cadet Assault College and planned to enter the Academy of the Federal Security Service; the road there is closed, of course. Masha will also be deprived of any prospects of work in the basic Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs. It is hard to imagine what Grisha’s class mates will say about his father. Some people will obviously be tactless enough to hurt this well-mannered boy, 

I was very displeased to hear from the attorney that investigator Vidiukov had guaranteed that I would be returned to Lefortovo, to the cell with the detainee from Uzbekistan accused of terrorism, who was untidy and did not speak Russian, instead of Manashirov’s cell, and that I would not be allowed to stay in hospital for more than ten days. According to the law, the investigator may not interfere with the conditions at the detention centre let alone medical care. 

Now the sun is setting outside, and as it gets darker, detainees start shouting to each other from cells to the other cells opposite ours. Such things could never happen in Lefortovo. Every night after the lights are off at 10:00 p.m., you can hear massive chants with the same text, “Greetings to the entire prison, to all the decent people, from mafia enforcer Ilias! Warm and kind words! Good health! Clear sky above! Golden freedom! Early release! All the best from God! Prisoners have the same lifestyle ! Life to thieves! Forever! And ever!” Start from the words “Life to thieves!”, they chant in unison. They mostly shout from the minimum-security cells. As far as I understand, they are professional chanters, and the prisoners from such cells adhere to the prisoners’ rules more strictly. The underboss’s word in the detention centre is the law! The underboss of Matrosskaia Tishina has been Zelimkhan Zasulaev from Chechnya for two years. He is held in the large special unit in connection with the criminal proceedings based on the massive fight at Khovanskoe Cemetery. The massacre with lethal cases was on everyone’s lips: the members of the NGO “Healthy Nation” associated with the Brothers in Arms, the organisation of internationalist warriors, were summoned by the direction of the State Unitary Enterprise “Cemeteries of Moscow” to throw out the large group of side workers from Tajikistan working under the cover of Rifat Kaberov, the Acting Head of the Office of Internal Affairs of the Troitskii and Novomoskovskii Administrative Districts of Moscow.

 The mafia enforcer in Matrosskaia Tishina is Ilias from Ingushetia. The people from Chechnya and Ingushetia are practically the same people, they even have a common name: Nakh. The language is almost the same except for several words and special accent. By the way, the mafia enforcer in Vodnik was also the man called Bashir from Ingushetia. The former enforcer Maga had also been from Ingushetia. It is not surprising at all. In our regiment in the army, 25 people from Chechnya and Ingushetia had absolute power owing to their team spirit, physical fitness and high battle spirit. There were twice as many people from Dagestan, and the numbers of people from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan (each nation separately) were three or four times higher, though. The same thing happened in our Kostroma Technological Institute.

The detainees are of good opinion of Ilias in Matrosskaia Tishina, they say he is fair and respected. I have never met a mafia enforcer either in Vodnik or in Matrosskaia Tishina because I am always held in special units, in the maximum security cells, with no “roads” and other freedoms. 

Of course, there are no “roads” in Lefortovo. Even the minimum slang used in special units of the other detention centres is not used here. When I called the cell a “safe house” in Lefortovo, they looked at me as if I were an idiot. Probably, the only word in use there is a bunk bed.


The allegedly coming amnesty is widely discussed here. The national authorities have adopted the law according to which a year spent in the detention centre equals a year and half in the prison settlement, so 100,000 people will be released to reduce pressure on the federal budget. The increasing retirement age in the country also means shortage of money and gives hope to amnesty. In fact, the attorneys laughed when I told them about the rumour,

“Prisoners always hope for the coming amnesty.”

The State Duma does not rule out the possibility of criminal amnesty in Russia in 2018. Fortunately, there is even a pretext for that: the Russian constitution turns 25 years in December.

Not only relatives of those held in prison settlements and prisons, but also representatives of the expert community say that the next criminal amnesty in Russia must be quite wide and include a much longer list of those released as usual.

As Olga Kiiutsina, the Director of the Institute for Problems of the Contemporary Society, says the purpose to be set is to reduce the numbers of the Russian prisoners two or three times. This would bring the numbers of the Russian prisoners to the level standard for the civilised country.

The Director of the Institute for Problems of the Contemporary Society emphasises that draft amnesties in Russia are traditionally developed by the people who are generally not really interested in humanisation of the punishment system. When it comes to them, humaneness is something unclear and distant. As a result, amnesty turns into profanity again and again.

In December, there will probably be amnesty dedicated to the anniversary of the principal law of the country, but relatively few prisoners will be released. They will be the people who would soon be released anyway without any amnesty: the people who have been imprisoned for a short term and have good chances of being released on parole.

In fact, in Russia there is about a million of prisoners for whom about 40 billions roubles are spent monthly, let alone capital expenses and related costs incurred to ensure operation of the police, courts, prosecutors, investigators, the Federal Security Service and other law enforcement authorities. 

Russia cannot afford such huge expenses nowadays. 

In 1900, there were 895 prisons in our countries. 90,140 prisoners, which was ten times less than now, were held there. The average term of imprisonment in Russia before the revolution was two months and a half, and today it is about four years. The prisoners before the revolution had good meals and clothes, and there were half as many prisoners in cells. In Lefortovo, there was one prisoner per cell; now there are two. In Butyrka and Matrosskaia Tishina, the area per prisoner was also twice bigger, and the detainees recollected with pleasure later how comfortable their imprisonment in the times of tsar Nikolai. By the beginning of XX century, Russia had managed to bring the detainees’ conditions into conformity to the European standards and applicable conventions.

The law enforcement authorities refer to the statistics in Stalin’s time, which I can easily object to. The numbers of prisoners in camps in the USSR in 1930 at the peak reached a million and a half, but the population of the Soviet Union was at least half as much as the population of present-day Russia. Moreover, in those times the prisoners built railways, the White Sea Canal, large metallurgic and chemical plants and gave economic benefits to the country (please accept my apologies for the cynical assessment of performance as millions of people died during such forced labour).

If out governments spends hundreds of millions of roubles in its annual budget to maintain prisons and prison settlements, it probably wants to see the quality transformation of detainees into decent members of the society. Nothing of the sort...

In Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 1314 dated 13 October 2004 “Issues of the Federal Penitentiary Service”, which governs the activity and structure of the organisation, numerous clauses describing all the powers and obligations as well as objectives of the Federal Penitentiary Service do not contain (!!!) the purpose of correctional education.

In the end, it turns out that Russia tries to be similar to Europe by spending lots of money to maintain numerous prisoners, but it fails to re-educate them and turns them into enemies of the state with its own money.

In Lefortovo, a very nice warden Iura with a friendly and freckled face, expressed an idea,

“It is much cheaper and more useful to dispose of all the prisoners!”

I thought I had misheard of him, but he repeated his idea with no anger or emotions he had read in some figure’s speech. After that, I and Manashirov discussed this “folk” wisdom, which actually had some logic in it, for a long time.

When I was the head of the district, I regularly cooperated with the educational department to organise tours to the Serpukhov prison for senior pupils so that they would understand what offences could result in. The effect was overwhelming. I consider developing the legislative initiative according to which all the judges, prosecutors, investigators and field officers will be imprisoned for a month or two as a preventive measure and a kind of practical lessons. Moreover, they must be imprisoned under the same conditions as with criminals, public officials and businessmen rather than the way it is done now, when they are placed together with their colleagues. I am sure it would be of great use for the entire law enforcement system of Russia.

On being held in the overcrowded cells with no ho water, with rats and bed bugs, I am sure that would promote broad amnesty faster, and arrest as a pre-trial restriction would not be applied by judges and prosecutors far and wide. Neither judges nor prosecutors are held in prison in ordinary life. There are few cases like that in Russia.

Candidates for the judge’s office in Japan are held in ordinary prison for a year, based on fake documents “under cover” so that they will feel the price of a mistake of justice.

Of course, let’s consider my examples. Sergei Abrosimov, the officer of the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Head of the Criminal Intelligence Department, was detained in 2009 by the officers of the Federal Security Service when I was transferring five million roubles for not instituting criminal proceedings as regards intentional bankruptcy of the Municipal Unitary Enterprise “Energoservis”, so he was caught red-handed. He was imprisoned for six years and spent only half a term in prison. It is the only case in present-day Russia when the officer of the General Prosecutor’s Office holding the general’s office was convicted and held in the prison settlement based on Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In court, I asked not to imprison him and give a suspended sentence. My purpose was not to imprison him; all I did was to protect myself from the large-scale attack by the top-rank prosecutors.

In a day, my deputy Elena Bazanova was detained, allegedly for the bribe that had never been given. The field officers gave the payment document to the encashing form in the other part of the building. To Bazanova’s subordinate. No money was transferred under that payment document, but all the channels kept showing her personal 20,000 roubles kept in her safe box.

  Bazanova was set the condition: accuse Shestun wrongfully, and you will be released. The applicant was Boris Kalimunin, the Colonel of the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption Enforcement of MIA, with the forged passport in the name of entrepreneur Iusup Karimov. 

Elena Iurevna refused, so they instituted criminal proceedings based on Part 4 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Bribe in an Especially Large Scale” as revenge for Abrosimov, based on the statement submitted by the criminal leader Sergei Romanov (Graf). He informed that he had bribed me three years ago, but furnished no evidence except for words. Nevertheless, it did not prevent them from instituting proceedings based on an especially grave article. In three years, the proceedings were terminated since there had been no event of the crime, but that story took lots of my efforts and health away.

After that, I filed the application for instituting criminal proceedings against the gambling prosecutors from Moscow Region: about ten top-rank prosecutors were put behind the bars.

General Stanislav Buianskii, the Deputy Prosecutor for Moscow Region, born testimony that Bazanova’s arrest had been coordinated by General Aleksandr Ignatenko, the Deputy Prosecutor for Moscow Region, and Dmitrii Urumov, the Head of the Department for Work with Investigators, jointly with the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption Enforcement of MIA, in order to influence Shestun.

The General Prosecutor’s Office went through fire and ice to protect its officers, and after they had been held behind the bars for more than a year, Tkachev and the investigator from the Investigative Committee Nikandrov (who was responsible for that case later) had to release them. The Prosecutor General’s Office did not sign the letter of accusation of their colleagues, which made it impossible to transfer the materials to court.

Ivan Tkachev had an arrangement with Viktor Grin, the Deputy Prosecutor General, regarding termination of the “case of the gambling prosecutors” in exchange for the criminal prosecution of Lieutenant General of the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption Enforcement of MIA Denis Sugrobov under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Criminal Gang”, so that his live competitor in encashment in the banking activity would be eliminated.

Owing to Ivan Ivanovich, Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which used to be applied very rarely, to the classic criminal gangs that had murdered lots of people, is now easily applied to any businessmen, law enforcement officers and public officials. The imprisonment terms there are up to 25 years, which is a good threat for the disobedient. Any company having the director, the accountant and the financial specialist can be defined as a criminal gang: a group of people acting in collusion to gain illegal profit. There used to be dozens of cases based on Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation per year in Russia while now there are thousands!

Tkachev made friends with Deputy Prosecutor General Grin for this reason; they have easily managed to imprison me under the given proceedings.

To end my stories about participation in the large wars of the law enforcement officers, I can conclude that there are no top-rank prosecutors or even ordinary judges in prison.

Can we suppose that there is no corruption in high offices of prosecutors, the Federal Security Service and federal judges? Of course, no, the point is that the social allowances of a judge in Russian include the total immunity against criminal prosecution in addition with the life financial support exceeding the pension of any citizen. A drunk judge who runs over a pedestrian to death may not be detained by a road police officer. In fact, the government grants the judges protecting them pardon for any illegal actions. The worst outcome is dismissal.

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew overcame the terrible scope of corruption by introducing the institution of independent judges. Judges in Singapore are paid 2.5 million dollars per year, but their liability is very strict. Punishment of a judge convicted of corruption in Singapore is executing by a firing squad. That is why Singapore has the highest standards of living and practically no crime.

In all the developed countries, the judicial authorities are absolutely independent of the executive authorities, and Russia is the only country where any federal judge, even in a district court, is appointed by the decree of the President of the Russian Federation. 

Very rich people left abroad long ago, and Russia has extradition difficulties because of the deteriorated international relations. Moreover, even those having no money, but being smart and skilled are also escaping down. It results in capital and brain drain. It is much easier to enter oil universities, for instance, Gubkin Oil and Gas University, than the Academy of the Federal Security Service and basic universities of the prosecutor’s office and courts. Young people and their parents understand that earning money in production or business is difficult and dangerous contrary to the regulatory authorities. Who is going to work in the country if everyone wants to be a judge or a prosecutor?


Termination of the hunger strike turned out to be even harder than its start, which I had not expected. First of all, it was harder from a psychological point of view although I had been transferred to Matrosskaia Tishina, at least on a temporary basis, but the main requirements had been met. When you are on a hunger strike, everyone starts rushing around and persuading you, including prosecutors, senior executives of the detention centre and human rights defenders... The effect is stronger day by day, you are satisfied with yourself, with the power of your will, with the gradual achievement of your purpose, the mass media are focused on you; moreover there is no pain like the one you feel after the termination, and there is so much fuss about finding and making necessary meals and drinks in the restricted conditions. 

I drank only juices for the first four days. In fact, all I had were oranges, which were not recommended by doctors due to their hyperacidity. Fortunately, my wonderful cell mates had necessary food as I had been brought from Lefortovo with practically empty hands. The package was delivered, and the goods from the prison store were paid for only on the sixth day, so I had eaten Andrei’s and Rashid’s stock of carrots, apples, bananas, and dried fruit of all sorts. Abdullov’s medical experience and huge stock of medicinal products, which he generously shared, were of great help. The principle that all the food in the cell is common works in all the detention centres regardless of the detainee’s wealth.

Now a lot of time is spent to cook necessary meals. I grate something from early morning till late evening, boil beetroot, dried fruit and carrots with a water heater and squeeze juices. Every two hours, I eat liquid porridge and grated vegetables every two hours. I change and do not mix different types of food. 

Responses to all of my complaints, motions and requests are not delivered because I have been transferred from Lefortovo. There is enough time to describe the prison life and write letters to my family and friends, which are sent by e-mail in heaps.

I was upset to find out about Manashirov’s harsh sentence: twelve years of the high-security prison for the intermediation in the bribe five years ago, which was confirmed by nothing, and for the telephone bought from a prison cook as a provocation. Murderers are not given such a sentence... How can the businessmen having nothing to do with natural resources, oil and gas and constructing malls be treated so cruelly? Columbus has been taken away, he has been punished, why finish the man off?! I will be hoping and praying that the Supreme Court will reduce the sentence to at least seven or eight years in the minimum-security prison; then he will have a chance of being released, given the time he has been held in custody.

Manashirov’s partner Ildar Samiev is now being held in the sixth special unit of Matrosskaia Tishina based on Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, with very doubtful elements of the crime. The charges are that his companies granted the famous football player Fedor Smolov the apartment that turned out to have been mortgaged to the bank, and another episode. This is an arbitration issue so what is the point of holding the man in custody for two years after he compensated for the clients’ damages long ago, and Columbus Mall was taken away?

By the way, the statement against former Deputy of the State Duma for the Just Russia Samiev was filed by “striving” Anvar from Tajikistan held behind the bars based on Article 105 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Murder” in cell 621, who supposedly has the status of a “tramp” (the rank before the baron of crime), because Ildar would not allow his cell mates assist in the “road” transiting through his cell window. The point is that four-people cell 618 is located in the strategic place: its window overlooks the hospital where we are now, and it is convenient to shout to the hospital building from there as well, which Ildar would not allow his cell mates to do that too.


Before the weekend, Rashid Abdullov got concerned about the plans to discharge him from the hospital; he was afraid that he would be taken to Lefortovo, where he had been registered based on his criminal case. He must have second sight. On Saturday evening, the corridor guard came in and said, “Pack your staff and leave,” into cell next 729 together with blogger Iura Kornyi from Lefortovo. We helped him carry the bags, hugged him and wished to spend as much time in the hospital as possible. 

In half an hour, our new cell mate was brought: Ruslan Bashirov from the sixth special unit in Matrosskaia Tishina, also a doctor like Rashid. He was born 30 years ago in Uzbekistan, in Samarkand Region. He is a Meskhetin Turk. He lived in Naurskaia District of Chechnya for ten years, then his family moved to Kurskaia Village in Stavropol Territory where Meskhetin Turks resided in the areas which were densely inhabited by small national communities. They settled down there.

Ruslan’s father was a construction engineer, his mother was a nurse in the local hospital, and he was the only child in the family. Bashirov graduated from the Stavropol State Medical Academy in 2012 and completed thoracic surgery residency training in 2014. Then he worked in Stavropol, for DNA Development LLC, carried out occupational examinations of Gazprom staff and concurrently worked as a surgeon on standby in Semashko Regional Hospital. At the end of 2016, Ruslan studied orthopedics and traumatic surgery and worked for Orteks LLC (orthopedics chain) as a doctor consulting on selection of orthopedic items; his duties also included diagnostics and treatment of musculoskeletal system disorders. The orthopedics centre was located in Moscow near Semenovskaia metro station. He concurrently worked at the Sklifosovsky Research Institute of Emergency Medicine as a thoracic surgeon on standby. He was on duty every third night and worked at Orteks every day.

His wife Niliufar worked as a anaesthesia care provider in the private endocrinologic hospital, and their three-year-old child went to the private kindergarten. The Bashirovs rented a one-bedroom apartment in Iuzhnoe Butovo.

Bakhtiiar Makhmudov from Tajikistan came to Ruslan’s consultation once. Bakhtiiar suffered from flat-footedness of the third degree. He was really satisfied with the doctor’s advice and brought his entire family to the consultation in a month. His children had talipes valgus inherited from his parents. Then Ruslan met Bakhtiiar in the mosque in Novokuznetskaia Street, which he attended regularly. Bashirov saw Makhmudov at evening prayers for two months. Ruslan claims they never discussed a trip to Syria, and he would cut short any talks about that. Ruslan is an ardent traditional Muslim and denies any violence, let alone terror, according to the classic laws of the Koran. However, after they had seen each other in the mosque for two months, they were detained and accused of terrorism based on Article 205 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

In December 2017, early in the morning, ten officers of the Federal Security Service detained Bashirov in his rented apartment, before the eyes of his three-year-old son Aidyn and his wife.

Ruslan refused to plead guilty for three months while he was held in the sixth special unit in Matrosskaia Tishina. However, during a hundred days behind the bars, he made the logical conclusion based on the statistics of the guilty verdicts of the court in the terrorism cases that it was no use sponsoring the attorney who promised to ruin the criminal case. Moreover, the Bashirovs could not afford the defender even at the most moderate Moscow prices: a hundred thousand roubles per month.

Ruslan was reasonable to choose the only path leading to a shorter sentence: to plead guilty. In this case, proceedings are almost instant. They last three days, with no attorney, witness or examination of the materials in the case. The investigator, the judge and the prosecutor find it very convenient: in this case, it is not necessary to prove guilt, and there is no risk that numerous paperwork mistakes and deliberate violations of the law made by any investigator in abundance will be exposed. 

The judicial statistics is terrible: 75 % of verdicts in Russia are delivered in accordance with the special procedure or plea agreement. They have nothing to do with justice because in such proceedings a judge does not examine evidence, does not hear witnesses and defenders, does not even try to establish the actual circumstances of the case; he just approves the investigator’s letter of accusation with his signature and plays the role of a record clerk rather than a judge.

That is why the quality of investigation is falling drastically by the minute. The established practice of universal “voluntary” confessions makes the investigators feel totally uncontrollable and unpunishable, so they do not bother complying with the law at least formally.

The most terrible thing is that most Russians never care. Hundreds of thousands of detainees make false confessions, awareness of 0.3 % of the verdicts of non-guilty deprives them of any hope to be saved in legal classic ways. There were 10.5 % of the verdicts of non-guilty in the times of Stalin, in the notorious 1937. Unfortunately, our citizens believe it will never affect them and watch their neighbours taken away calmly; they suppose “there is no smoke without fire”. It is the society’s passive attitude that results in degradation of the law enforcement system and total collapse of justice itself and prevents high development rates of the Russian economy.

The annual decline in investment into the economy and growing capital drain from the country are first and foremost caused by the lack of guarantees of integrity of the earned capital and business itself. It is common knowledge that any entrepreneur, from a doner kebab seller to a billionaire, can be attended by law enforcement officers any time and have everything taken away. Unfortunately, it is confirmed by the statistics. The numbers of people imprisoned for economic crimes has grown much more than for other types of crimes, by more than 20 %. As for violent crimes, there is a minor decline. You obviously cannot earn much from criminals, and nobody is attracted by the hazard of being hit with a knife.

As soon as people get to understand that lack of justice results in slower economic development rates and, therefore, lower expenses for health care, education, road construction etc., higher retirement age,  and that lots of taxpayers’ budget funds are wasted to maintain the huge army of the police, investigators, prosecutors, judges, the Federal Security Service, the Federal National Guard Troops Service and so on, something might change.

In Russia, more than a million people work for the MIA. In comparison with the other countries, we have the highest numbers of police officers in the world, unfortunately. An indicator of the number of police officers per hundred thousand residents in Russia is 623 people, while it is 128 in India, 120 in China, 200 in the USSR, 256 in the US, and 300 to 360 in the European Union. There were a third as many police officers in the Soviet times, but every resident of our yard knew the district police officer and his Ural motorcycle with a yellow and blue side car. Now 99 % of residents do not know what their district police officer looks like, and a movie about Aniskin looks like fiction. 

How much does Russia spend to maintain the army of its police officers? In 2016, the costs for the needs of the MIA were: Russia – RUB 1,08 trillion (1.26 % of the GDP); the USA – USD 134 billion (0.7 % of the GDP); Germany – 0.7 % of the GDP; France – 0.9 % of the GDP.

In addition to the MIA, Russia also has the Federal National Guard Troops Service of 400,000 people, the Ministry of Emergencies of 289,000 people, the Federal Penitentiary Service of 295,000 people, the Federal Security Service and the State Border Guard Service of 200,000 people, the Customs Service of 70,000 people, the Investigative Committee and the prosecutors’ offices of 70,000 people, the Federal Drug Control Service of 34,000 people, and the Federal Migration Service of 35,000 people.

Let alone the army, the fiscal police, the judges, the Federal Protective Service, and the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information. The numbers of law enforcement authorities even in this incomplete form are more than 2.6 million.

The share of the law enforcement officers in Russia, where the employment rate is 60 million people, is 4.5 %, which is higher than the share of the developed countries six times and a half. In our country, the numbers of the law enforcement officers equal the quantity of people working in health care whereas the numbers of health care professionals in the US exceed the numbers of the law enforcement authorities 14 times. 

For the last 15 years, the law enforcement authorities have increased their headcount almost twice, and their budget has grown six times although the numbers of able-bodied citizens keep going down. Our national law enforcement authorities have turned into the powerful and incredibly rich corporation slowing down the economic development of the country. 

I think time has come to describe the man who has grasped the environment in the law enforcement system and keeps manoeuvring in these difficult conditions skilfully. 

Several days ago, while I was discussing the criminal case with my attorney Andrei Grivtsov in the attorney offices, I saw a middle-aged plump man with a neat beard who was walking around the offices like a master, which was forbidden by the law. His face seemed familiar, so I asked Andrei whether he knew the man. 

“It is Dionisii Zolotov, aka Denis Tumarkin!” Grivtsov exclaimed.

I had heard a lot about Dionisii in Vodnik, where he had been held, before Matrosskaia Tishina. After Lefortovo, Zolotov was transferred to the fifth detention centre, where he was placed into the comfortable sell with no security cameras, with alcohol and other pleasures of life. The prisoners told me that he could get around the prison without any hindrance, not only around the minimum-security cells, but also to special units. It was not allowed even to the underbosses in Vodnik, Maga from Ingushetia and then Bashir. 

The same way as in Matroska, he spent all his time in the attorney offices, where investigative actions were also taken, in the fifth detention centre. It is not Lefortovo, where no contacts are allowed. In Vodnik, 30 to 40 people got together in the hall while waiting for the meeting and discussing the latest news of the detention centre.

Dionisii had daily contacts with the operating officers and resolved all the issues he had. He did that in a demonstrative manner in order to show the other prisoners how he could influence the senior executives of the detention centre. 

At the beginning of July 2017, Vladimir Evdokimov, the CEO of Roscosmos responsible for quality control, was transferred to Dionisii Zolotov’s cell. Zolotov Tumarkin managed to charm the top manager of Roscosmos very quickly, and pretty soon Evdokimov’s wife, Valentina Rakitina, gave Dionisii 80 million roubles by leaving the money in the luggage locker at Kazanskii Station. A week later, Evdokimov was found dead in the cell’s toilet early in the morning. They say he had a fork at his back porch, with his veins cut shallowly with a plastic knife, but a lot of time had passed, so he died of major blood loss. 

Two of my cell mates have seen and spoken to numerous Evdokimov’s cell mates in the corridors. Their conclusions do not coincide with the Investigative Committee’s opinion that it was suicide. 

Valentina Rakitina filed a statement to M Directorate of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation in connection with the theft of 80 million roubles from her. The criminal proceedings against Dionisii Zolotov (Tumarkin) and his attorney Aleksandr Malofeef were instituted by the Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in Moscow. They were transferred to Kremlevskii Tsentral from Vodnik. The detention centre 99/1 of Matrosskaia Tishina is also guided by M Directorate of the Federal Security Service.

All the senior executives of Vodnik were cleaned up, the head of the fifth detention centre was dismissed, and criminal proceedings were instituted against the operating officers. Zolotov was soon transferred into a cell in Matrosskaia Tishina from special unit 99/1, and here he is, wandering about the detention centre freely.

During his short stay in Matrosskaia Tishina, Zolotov has already managed to imprison Denis Nabiullin, a member of the public monitoring commission, by introducing him in the detention centre’s hospital to banker Ildar Klebleev and agreeing upon the amount of 500 thousand US dollars for medical examination and opinion on impossibility of detention. Of course, when the money was being transferred at Grand Cofemaniia cafe, member of the public monitoring commission Nabiullin was detained and placed into Matrosskaia Tishina next to Zolotov and Klebleev. 

Deputy chairperson of the public monitoring commission of Moscow Eva Merkavecha, probably the most experienced and famous human rights defender of the commission, did not like Zolotov’s operation involving her colleague, and she published the scorching article immediately after she had attended the VIP cell held by Dionisii and other privileged detainees. Her publication was on everyone’s lips and was followed by large-scale inspections of the fifth detention centre, which resulted in dismissal of the senior executives of Matrosskaia Tishina and transfer of the VIP cell prisoners into the “tubdis”.

When I still was in Vodnik, at the beginning of June 2018, the Meshchanskii Court sentenced Zolotov (Tumarkin) to three years and a half of imprisonment. Moreover, he was sentenced to the minimum-security confinement, which meant his year in the detention centre would be equal to a year and a half in prison, so he could be released on parole that day. 

In Vodnik, all the detainees were indignant with the lenient sentence because after the top manager of Roscosmos had died, not only the officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service, but also the prisoners themselves were affected: all the cells were turned upside down, and the confinement conditions got considerably harsher.

The adventures by Tumarkin-Zolotov are very illustrative and demonstrate the mode of conduct that helps you get out of prison quickly and earn in present-day Russia. 

He started his “career” with robbing trucks at customs warehouses in 2001. He changed the long-haul trucks’ route by deceit and transshipped the cargo to his own warehouses; he was sentenced to three years in prison, but he was released from the prison settlement in Udmurtia in a year and had his conviction expunged. 

In 2007, Tumarkin managed to get 40 million roubles from the senior executives of DKN Construction Company for termination of the criminal proceedings. After the businessman had complained to the Inherent Security Department of the MIA, and the first arrests had followed, Tumarkin-Zolotov escaped to Israel. 

At the beginning of 2013, Dionisii had agreed upon the plea bargain with the investigators, and returned to Moscow, where he was detained immediately. In the Nikulinskii Court in Moscow, Tumarkin-Zolotov plead guilty and got the suspended prison sentence for three years, so he continued “resolving issues”. He “screwed up” German businessman Iurii Sudgaimer owning wood processing enterprises in Kirov for ten million US dollars. The German applied to the Investigative Committee, but no criminal proceedings were instituted against Tumarkin-Zolotov. In two years, Sudgaimer was a key witness in Nikita Belykh’s case.

Then Dionisii cheated developer Viktor Krulikovskii building the apartment block at Sergiev Posad for the amount of 150 million roubles.

In 2014, Dionisii was detained by the Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Security Service and placed into Lefortovo. The operating officers from the Third Service of the Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Security Service demanded testimony against General Vladimir Rozhkov, the Head of the Department of Internal Affairs in the Western Administrative District of Moscow, and he agreed to the condition for signing the plea bargain with the General Prosecutor’s Office. Following that scandal, Anatolii Iakunin, the Head of the Main Department of the MIA in Moscow, was dismissed.

According to the plea bargain, Tumarkin-Zolotov was sentenced to six years in the prison settlement by the Tverskoi Court. Moreover, Dionisii was sentenced to six months in the prison settlement for stealing 150 million roubles from Krulikovskii, the developer from Sergiev Posad, by the Nikulinskii Court. 

To complete the story about Dionisii Zolotov’s adventures and make a conclusion, I will quote the wonderful article by Andrei Sukhotin, the special reporter of The Novaya Gazeta, which we read to tatters in August 2018 in Vodnik,

“Actually, this is it. Former attorney Tumarkin (Zolotov) demonstrates to all the lawyers how your own rights must be protected efficiently. Without quarrels with the investigators, without engagement of the media and human rights defenders (except for holding them criminally liable), with no hunger strikes, complaints to the ECHR and addresses to the president… (by the way, this is a complete list of my own actions; A. Sh.).

Once he had started cooperating with the system, Tumarkin (Zolotov) not only became its integral part, but also demonstrated at his own example how to co-exist with it.”



I expected no good from that ill-fated day, the day of election. That election was one of the main causes of my arrest. Let me remind that, at 2 a.m. on the day when the election of the Head of Serpukhov District was appointed, Lieutenant General Kaburneev, the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, signed the resolution on instituting the criminal proceedings against me. They are afraid of nothing, they do not even try to conceal the pre-election political colouring of the arrest; on the contrary, they demonstrate it openly to send all the others the message. The Moscow Region heads of city districts and municipal districts are not elected directly any more; in fact, they are appointed by the governor. Serpukhov District was the only to elect its head directly on that day. The most popular candidate and acting Head of Serpukhov District is violently detained by 40 automatic riflemen on the day when the election is appointed, to demonstrate the power of Governor Vorobev and his patrons.

How could this have happened to our region? How do residents tolerate that? I still cannot believe that it is for real, it seems it is not happening to me! It makes me feel sick...

In the morning, I was told to leave, as usual, without saying where I must go and why. On passing numerous corridors and staircases, I entered the big hall with a large oval table. I was offered to take a seat between Sergei Pozdeev, the head of the prison, and my daughter Masha, who turned out to be a member of the district election committee in Bolshevik village where we resided.

When I look around, I saw about thirty people, polling booths and a ballot box. I hoped to see Iulia Shestun among the candidates for the office of the district head as she had been registered, but withdrawn from the election by the court after the repeated inspection had been requested by Elmira Khaimurzina, the Chairperson of the Moscow Regional Election Committee. However, her portrait was not there. They had even made Igor Tsapov refuse from the election so that Igor Ermakov, the appointee of the “Podolsk brigade” called Blednyi (which means “pale” in Russian) by the people, would have no competitors.

However, Iulia Shestun was elected the deputy in Lipitskoe and Dankovskoe, and she would have to select one of them. Blednyi would obviously have failed the election if she had participated, so they tried to remove her from his path for a good reason.

Olga Levina, the deputy chairperson of the committee and a nanny from Kolobok kindergarten in Bolshevik, said,

“The entire district supports Shestun! Everyone understands that your arrest is political order!”

I appreciated her words as she could be dismissed for those words. 

I was told that when Olga Iurevna had left the prison, she burst into tears as she felt sorry about me. After the hunger strike, I had not gained my ordinary weight, I was strangely thin, and she probably thought it was unfair to keep me in the detention centre. 

It was also sad to vote for the candidate for the governor’s office: spoilers only. Pavel Grudinin had not been approved by the Presidential Executive Office of the Russian Federation, and he reasonably decided not to try to pass the municipal filter. Even Nikolai Dizhur had not been admitted. 

Despite the election circus, I still left in the lifted spirits. I was really inspired by the words said by the deputy chairperson of the committee. Moreover, I saw and sat next to my daughter. In addition, I insisted on a walk on the occasion of the election because there were usually no wardens to take us for a walk at the weekend. 

Right after the walk, I was made to leave again, to the same office, where I spent more than an hour talking to General Sergei Anatolevich Moroz, the Head of the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow. He apologised for the inconveniences I experienced in the fifth detention centre “Vodnik” several times (Lefortovo was not subordinated to him): for not issuing a power of attorney for the election, for a short bed, and for no air ventilation in cell 508.

“Vodnik and Matrosskaia Tishina are heaven on earth in comparison with Lefortovo,” I assured the General of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

Fifty-year-old General Moroz has been in the system of the Federal Penitentiary Service for more than 20 years. His career started in the Saratov prison settlement, then he worked in the penitentiary system in Chelyabinsk Region as the Head of the Tenth Correctional Facility. After that, he worked as the Deputy Head of the Main Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation in Chelyabinsk Region, the Head of the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Bryansk Region, and he was transferred to the office of the Head of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Kuban in 2013. 

We discussed many aspects of detention and even compared them with the experience of foreign prisons. Sergei Anatolevich urged me to draw up written proposals regarding reformation of the imprisonment rules alongside with the economic and regulatory rationale. 

“Aleksandr Viacheslavovich, you have the bright, analytical mind,” the Head of the Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow flattered me.

“Then I need access to the orders of the Federal Penitentiary Service, the legislative framework, budget indicators with the complete breakdown, international best practices of prisons as well as the USSR’s experience for the full-scale analytical report,” I said. “First of all, it is necessary to develop the legislative initiative and amend Law No. 103-ФЗ “On the Imprisonment” and the Internal Regulations. Time flows, everything changes, and there regulations are obsolete. First and foremost, there must be extensive amnesty, and the prisons must have at least the standard numbers of prisoners, especially when it comes to criminal cases that are not associated with offences against the person,” I could not stop.

We departed, and I went back into may cell feeling peaceful because I had managed to bring some information to the notice of the General of the Federal Penitentiary Service. I did not want to think about the fact that he could not actually change the situation even by 1 %. Nothing will change until the people demand it from the government. All the law enforcement authorities are satisfied with the present-day disorder.

When I returned to the cell, I told my cell mates Ruslan and Andrei about the details of that meeting. It immediately came to my mind that employment of the accused held in the detention centre was a good offer both for the Federal Penitentiary Service and detainees. Take Ruslan: he is an experienced thoracic surgeon, an orthopaedist; he would definitely be of use in this hospital suffering from lack of professionals. No law forbids using labour of the detainees who have not been convicted yet.

Andrei Murashev is an experienced lawyer, who could also be useful both for the hospital and detained people. 

I am sure many of us would work for free or for symbolic money. Neither Andrei nor Ruslan needs any specially equipped workplace like a tailor shop. 

Hardly had I drunk a cup of tea as I was told to leave again. I was taken to that large office with an oval table again. There were two women in quite strict clothes in there. When I came closer, I recognised Tatiana Nikolaevna Moskalkova, the commissioner for human rights in the Russian Federation. She had changed a lot since I last saw her as a deputy of the State Duma four years ago. We communicated a lot then and took a photo together. Then Tatiana Nikolaevna had just changed her MIA General’s uniform for the deputy’s civil costume, was taller, energetic, and well-built, and spoke in the commanding voice.

Now I saw an absolutely different person in front of me. She was a tired woman with very kind eyes who seemed to have absorbed all the pain of the Russian families who were unfortunate to see their beloved ones behind the bars only.

The work of Doctor of Law Tatiana Moskalkova in the office of the commission for human rights was approved by many famous human rights defenders: Chairperson of the Moscow Helsinki Group Liudmila Alekseeva, lawyer Genri Reznik, Valerii Borshchev, Svetlana Gannushkina...

Moskalkova is loved and respected in prisons, she is one of the most popular addressee’s of the prisoners’ complaints. 

Tatiana Nikolaevna told me about the visit by my wife Iulia and daughter Masha, which had left an impression on her. Moskalkova was accompanied by Natalia Borisovna, the Head of the Department for Respect for Political Rights of the Administrative Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation. They listened to my story carefully, gave me practical advice on medical care, conditions for confinement in the detention centre and defence methods. Tatiana Nikolaevna promised she would talk to Ella Pamfilova, the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission, that evening regarding my non-admission to the election. The commissioner for human rights in the Russian Federation was also shocked by my demonstrative arrest on the day when the election was appointed, after the threats by the top-rank officials published in my video address to the President.




Светлана Астраханцева
Нам выпало время, когда белое становится черным, а черное – белым…
Григорий Михнов-Вайтенко
Пример Шестуна – это пример в истории, я бы сказал. Чаще всего такой человек предпочитает тихо и незаметно, извините за выражение, отползти в угол, и очень редко, когда вступает на путь правдорубца.
Людмила Улицкая
Понимание и попытка разрешения "мусорной" проблемы вызвали конфликт Шестуна с властью. Не просто с властью, а с самым сердцем нашей власти - с ФСБ. Люди должны встать на защиту Александра Шестуна. И к этому я призываю.

Записки Шестуна